Hamburg Christmas Markets

December 20, 2016

I started writing this a few days ago, thinking it would make a good seasonal "Travel Tuesday" and then yesterday I heard the news of the lorry attack on a Berlin Christmas Market. I found out about it when I got an alert on Facebook that a friend of mine from my time in Germany checked in as safe and I knew something had happened.

I lived in Hamburg (about a three-hour drive from Berlin) for three and a half years but I've visited Berlin a handful of times both as a tourist and for work. I don't think I'd ever been in that exact part of the city where the attack was, but I know I passed the Kaiser Wilhelm Monument on the S-bahn and I think I met this little friend in a park nearby. It still hit very close to home. I had a rough time living in Germany, where I always felt like an outsider, but the Christmas Markets were something I really looked forward to.  There wasn't anything like it in the US  and it was really nice way for grown-ups to enjoy Christmas; the atmosphere, the festivities, carols, the lights...

Hamburg was chilly and rainy, but not usually cold enough for snow - people joke that we got London's weather a day later to give you an idea of the usual climate. But for all the little snow that fell, Hamburgers make up for it with their Christmas Markets/weihnachtsmarkte.

There were several throughout the city of about 1.8 million people (1.5x the size of Philadelphia), but many of them ran together, with a few stalls standing in any open space. The most impressive however, were between the Binnenalster, the inner lake near the city center and the Rathaus (town hall).

I rounded up my favorite photos to show you what it's like to be in the middle of a German Christmas market, and in the hopes that they will stay open even after a tragedy like in Berlin.
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There's an actor playing Santa in that sled, and you can just see the cables it's guided on as it flew through the air.
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Lebkuchen, a bit like gingerbread
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